NFC East: Kevin Dockery

NFC East: Free-agency primer

March, 4, 2010
3/04/10
9:49
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Dallas Cowboys

Potential unrestricted free agents: G Montrae Holland

Potential restricted free agents: NT Junior Siavii, WR Miles Austin, DE Stephen Bowen, CB Cletis Gordon, DE Jason Hatcher, WR Sam Hurd, T Pat McQuistan, C Duke Preston, G Cory Procter, S Gerald Sensabaugh, DE Marcus Spears, S Pat Watkins, K Shaun Suisham.

What to expect: Anything is possible with Jerry Jones in charge, and the Cowboys could make a big splash after an underwhelming offseason a year ago. But in terms of team needs and what is required to take the next step, Dallas really doesn’t need much. A big-time impact safety makes some sense and could make a very good defense great, but that might be a project for the draft in a trade-up scenario for someone like Earl Thomas. But Darren Sharper might pique their interest. They also need to get younger along the offensive line, particularly at tackle, but that seems like a draft-day project, too. Maybe Jones gets real aggressive in the wide receiver market, as Roy Williams certainly is not living up to his billing, but the Cowboys are still rather stacked with pass-catchers. All in all, this is a team that is sitting pretty and doesn’t have a prominent unrestricted free agent who is poised to leave.

New York Giants

Potential unrestricted free agents: QB David Carr, LB Danny Clark, P Jeff Feagles, DT Fred Robbins

Potential restricted free agents: WR Domenik Hixon, TE Darcy Johnson, DE Dave Tollefson, G Kevin Boothe, S C.C. Brown, DT Barry Cofield, CB Kevin Dockery, WR Derek Hagan, WR Sinorice Moss, T Guy Whimper, LB Gerris Wilkinson.

What to expect: Big things could be in the works here, as there are already rumors swirling that New York could be a prime suitor for linebacker Karlos Dansby. An impact linebacker is certainly near the top of their wish list and Dansby fits the bill. Plus, he is extremely versatile. Getting faster on defense is a huge priority with new coordinator Perry Fewell stressing the ability to cover a lot of ground. However, Dansby isn’t really the thumper they need in the middle and is more of an outside linebacker for this system, although he would be great on passing downs. This is a group of decision-makers who might be starting to feel some heat, so do not rule out a big move or two.

Philadelphia Eagles

Potential unrestricted free agents: DE Jason Babin, S Sean Jones, LB Jeremiah Trotter, LB Tracy White

Potential restricted free agents: LB Akeem Jordan, P Saverio Rocca, WR Jason Avant, C Nick Cole, LB Omar Gaither, LB Chris Gocong, CB Ellis Hobbs, G Max Jean-Gilles, TE Alex Smith, FB Leonard Weaver.

What to expect: There are questions on the offensive line, but overall, the Eagles are in a prime situation to improve their defense, particularly up front and at safety. Remember, they have quarterbacks to dangle as trade bait and really do not have any unrestricted guys that they need to bring back. This is a possible landing spot for Julius Peppers and he would be terrific on the opposite side of Trent Cole, who is among the most underrated players in the game and could blow up with someone taking pass protection attention away from his side. Count on the Eagles being aggressive in the free-agent and/or trade market. It might just be enough to get them that ever elusive Lombardi trophy. Stranger things have happened.

Washington Redskins

Potential unrestricted free agents: LS Ethan Albright, DE Phillip Daniels, T Levi Jones, C Casey Rabach,
P Hunter Smith, T Mike Williams, DE Renaldo Wynn, TE Todd Yoder.

Potential restricted free agents: DE Lorenzo Alexander, T Stephon Heyer, LB Chris Wilson, QB Jason Campbell, S Reed Doughty, DT Kedric Golston, LB Rocky McIntosh, DT Anthony Montgomery, C Will Montgomery, CB Carlos Rogers.

What to expect: This is a difficult team to get a grasp on in terms of what they might do in free agency, but I think it is safe to say that ownership will not hold Mike Shanahan and company back from opening up the check book and signing (and even overpaying) players whom they desire. It would be wise for Washington to have an excellent idea of what they are going to do with the fourth overall draft pick in terms of going quarterback or offensive tackle before really devising a free-agency plan. Rebuilding the offensive line is a must and Shanahan needs lighter, quicker (and younger) linemen than are on the roster. A running back they can trust wouldn’t hurt either, although it looks as though Clinton Portis will return, which they may regret. But don’t forget, this is a team that -- unwisely in my opinion -- is switching to a 3-4 scheme, so inside linebacker help is required, as are defensive linemen who fit the new scheme. The Redskins have a long wish list, but also have the ownership to endorse big spending when free agency opens.

Giants have a lengthy injury report

December, 24, 2009
12/24/09
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Perhaps Tom Coughlin is erring on the side of caution, but his injury list reached double digits Wednesday. You know it's bad when players who haven't been listed on the injury report (wink) are being placed on injured reserve as was the case with tight end Darcy Johnson.

Here's the rundown on the players that Coughlin listed on the injury report:

Players who did not practice Wednesday: LB Michael Boley (triceps), RB Ahmad Bradshaw (ankles/foot), CB Corey Webster (knee), RT Kareem McKenzie (knee) and G Rich Seubert (knee). If Boley can't go against the Panthers, it would pose quite a problem. The Panthers' running backs can catch the ball and they'd likely be matched up with players such as Jonathan Goff, Clint Sintim and Chase Blackburn. As we saw the other night, Blackburn's most effective when he's allowed to focus mostly on special teams. I thought his play on special teams set the tone early in the Giants' blowout win over the Redskins.

Here are the players who were limited in practice: CB Aaron Ross (hamstring), LB Chase Blackburn (ribs), S C.C. Brown (hamstring), CB Kevin Dockery (ankle), LB Jon Goff (hamstring/rib), WR Hakeem Nicks (hamstring), K Lawrence Tynes (right hamstring).

I had a good visit with Nicks immediately after the game Sunday night and he was very optimistic about his quick return. It seemed like Coughlin was more worried about the injury than Nicks. But from what I'm hearing, Nicks should be good to go against the Panthers. And if New York could somehow slip into the playoffs, I sense that Nicks is about ready to take off. He didn't get off to the fast start like Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson did last season, but he's now a big play waiting to happen.

Giants' CB Ross is inactive

December, 21, 2009
12/21/09
7:40
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LANDOVER, Md. -- Giants cornerback Aaron Ross is out for tonight's game against the Redskins. We knew starting cornerback Corey Webster (knee) wasn't going to play but the Giants were holding out hope Ross (hamstring) would be able to go.

With Webster out, either Bruce Johnson or Kevin Dockery will start at cornerback opposite Terrell Thomas. Michael Johnson and Aaron Rouse will be the starting safeties. Here are the Giants' other inactives: Ramses Barden, D.J. Ware, Adam Koets, Kareem McKenzie, Sinorice Moss and Darcy Johnson.

The biggest surprise for the Skins is that defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin is inactive. That makes room for offensive tackle William Robinson to be active. Here are the rest of the Redskins' inactives: Emergency QB Richard Bartel, Kevin Barnes, Edwin Williams, Alvin Bowen, Curtis Gatewood, Paul Fanaika and Marko Mitchell.

Giants' D pulls disappearing act in Big Easy

October, 18, 2009
10/18/09
8:17
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Matt Stamey/US Presswire
New York defensive back C.C. Brown was continually victimized by New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees on Sunday.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

NEW ORLEANS -- I tried to ignore the fact the Giants built their 5-0 record against some rather questionable competition. But in the aftermath of a 48-27 drubbing by the Saints, questioning the Giants' status in the NFC is fair game.

Coach Tom Coughlin better hope the Saints are the best team in the league because they made it look easy against the (former) top-rated defense in the league. Moments after the game, at least one Giants defender was trying to recall if Saints quarterback Drew Brees was ever touched Sunday. Nope, Brees was long gone by the time linebacker Chase Blackburn recorded the first sack.

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This was supposed to be a battle of NFC heavyweights, but in all honesty, the Giants didn't belong on the same field as the Saints. Time after time, Brees dropped back and threw to whomever Giants safety C.C. Brown was covering. And when that finally got old, he tossed a couple of touchdowns in cornerback Kevin Dockery's direction.

Brees was 23-of-30 for 369 yards and four touchdowns. He released the ball before there was anything close to a pass rush, in part, because receivers were allowed to race across the field unattended. He targeted Marques Colston and Lance Moore a combined 15 times -- and they caught 14 of those passes for 244 yards. Playing without injured linebacker Michael Boley, the Giants looked old and slow.

For reasons that were not explained after the game, the Giants allowed the Saints to lure them into a shootout. We'll never know what could've happened if offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride had slowed the game down with the running game, although I suspect the Saints would've prevailed. Under Sean Payton, the Saints had been notoriously bad -- Brees called them "awful" -- coming off the bye week. On Sunday, though, they were brilliant on offense and opportunistic on defense.

In wins over the Buccaneers, Chiefs and Raiders, the Giants were able to mask some of their weaknesses on defense. They signed Boley to a lucrative free-agent contract because he's capable of covering athletic tight ends and running backs in the open field. They knew Brown didn't have the coverage skills of Kenny Phillips -- out for the season with a knee injury -- but they hoped he could elevate his game. On Sunday, he looked completely lost. Even when he was in position, Saints wide receivers treated him as nothing more than a nuisance.

"We had two people in spots a couple of times on the deep ball and didn't make a play," Coughlin said after the game. "They would go up and get the ball and we're standing on the ground. We've got to locate the ball and get up as if the ball is ours."

Brown finished with a team-leading 13 tackles, but too many of them came after huge gains by the Saints. I kept trying to figure out why the Giants didn't give recent addition Aaron Rouse a chance to play. It seemed punitive to let Brown endure the Brees-led onslaught.

But to be fair, Brown had plenty of help. A somewhat questionable pass interference call on cornerback Corey Webster in the second quarter gave the Saints a 35-yard penalty and first-and-10 at the Giants' 12-yard line. They quickly made it 27-10 and the Giants were pretty much done.

(Read full post)

Saints still looking for a challenge

October, 18, 2009
10/18/09
3:27
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Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

NEW ORLEANS -- This was supposed to be a measuring stick game for both teams. Well, the Giants aren't measuring up at all. This is the first game we've seen how much they miss safety Kenny Phillips. But it's about more than that. Drew Brees has toyed with the Giants' secondary all day. And there's absolutely no pressure coming. Even when Bill Sheridan sends a safety like Michael Johnson, Brees gets the ball away quickly.

Some of us were touting Eli Manning for MVP heading into this game. Right now, my vote would go to Drew Brees. Oops, Kevin Dockery just bit on another play-action fake. Saints up, 41-17. Dockery was screaming at C.C. Brown after that play. I've never seen a safety have this bad a day. He has no clue what's going on. Why in the world wouldn't Coughlin put Rouse out there? Brown's been exposed since the opening snap.

Coughlin incensed by PI call

October, 18, 2009
10/18/09
2:20
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

NEW ORLEANS -- The 35-yard pass interference penalty on Corey Webster was the absolute killer on the Saints' latest scoring drive. The officials ruled that Webster didn't make an attempt to play the ball. Replays showed that Webster and receiver Marques Colston both changed direction when the pass appeared to be thrown to the wrong shoulder.

In changing directions, the two players' feet became tangled. Webster was called for pass interference -- and the Saints punched it in for a touchdown on a short pass to Lance Moore on a play where nickel cornerback Kevin Dockery appeared to bit on the play-action fake.

Tuck to Beast: 'We don't play the excuse game'

October, 8, 2009
10/08/09
5:10
PM ET
 
 Jim O'Connor/US Presswire
 The New York Giants' depth at defensive line has been tested this season, but part of the team's culture is playing through pain.

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


If the New York Giants were the sort of team that made excuses, it would be on about six or seven by now. But that's not the way Tom Coughlin runs his locker room -- and it's why all the adulation for the flavors of the month (Vikings, Saints) doesn't really affect my belief that the Giants are still the team to beat in the NFC.

When I made my annual pilgrimage to Albany, N.Y., for Giants training camp in August, Coughlin was in a foul mood -- even by his standards. He wasn't pleased that key players such as Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks and Aaron Ross were missing valuable practices. And in one classic Coughlin moment, he actually requested that reporters stop talking up the alleged depth his team along the defensive line. Only a day before, my own editors had strongly suggested a column on how the Giants might have the deepest front four rotation in the NFL.

Coughlin was afraid that his players were reading the NFC East blog and other lesser-known publications. He was right on the money because important players began dropping on what seemed like a daily basis. Chris Canty, a big-money free agent from the Cowboys, never really made it out of the gates with a hamstring tear and he's only played in one game this season. Jay Alford, a valuable member of the team's defensive tackle rotation, is out for the season.

The Giants haven't had both regular first-string cornerbacks on the field this season and nickel corner Kevin Dockery just returned from his own hamstring issue. Safety Kenny Phillips was poised to have a Pro Bowl-worthy season, in my opinion, but his campaign ended after two games. He'll have to undergo microfracture surgery on his knee.

Heading into a Week 5 game against the Raiders, the Giants will be without starting linebacker Michael Boley and quarterback Eli Manning is questionable with plantar fasciitis. But the funny thing about this is that no one, including the team's fan base, seems to be panicking.

The Giants are 4-0 and they actually appear to be gaining steam as they continue this crash course toward an intriguing Week 6 matchup with the Saints in New Orleans. In order to try to understand why this team seems almost to embrace adversity, I tracked down Pro Bowl defensive end and soon-to-be proud father Justin Tuck on Thursday afternoon.

"There's just a resiliency about this team that's hard to describe," Tuck said. "When someone else goes down with an injury, it's almost like we try to play our season for them."

Tuck could barely move his left shoulder after he was tripped by Cowboys left tackle Flozell Adams late in the first half and it appeared that he would have to miss at least one game. Instead, he "harnessed up" his shoulder and played eight snaps in a 24-0 shutout of the Buccaneers in Week 3.

"I knew I couldn't go the whole game, but I thought my teammates could use a breather every now and then," Tuck said. "I would've felt bad if I couldn't give them that opportunity."

Coughlin feels horrible for his players when they're injured for extended periods, but you'll never hear him or anyone else in the locker room use that as an excuse. In fact, Coughlin's passed out T-shirts to his players in the past that say, "Talk is Cheap...Play the Game!" Tuck and some of his teammates might think some of Coughlin's methods are a little corny but that doesn't mean they don't believe in them.

"Coughlin's earned the right to do anything he wanted when we won that Super Bowl," Tuck said. "He could come up with something completely off-the-wall and we'd all be standing in line to do whatever it was. That's the way we run this place. We don't play the excuse game around here."

On Thursday, Tuck predicted that Manning would find a way to be on the field Sunday. He said he "just knows the guy" and really doesn't have much doubt that Manning will find a way to play through the pain in his foot.

"I keep telling him, 'Eli, you haven't ever been mobile anyway. Just get out there and play football.'" Tuck said. "And I think he'll find a way."

It's the Giants' way.



Adam Schefter reports on the injury status of Eli Manning and the chances of him playing on Sunday.

Rookie surprise: Giants CB Bruce Johnson

October, 7, 2009
10/07/09
12:00
PM ET

NFC Rookie Surprise: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

 
 AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
 Bruce Johnson returned his only interception of the season 34 yards for a touchdown.
Former Miami Hurricanes cornerback Bruce Johnson had to endure the frustration of not being drafted after once being projected as an early- to mid-round prospect. He didn't wow anyone at the combine and he was barely a top-30 corner heading into the draft.

But when I arrived in Albany, N.Y., in August, Johnson was constantly making plays in training camp. You could tell right away that he was better than sixth-round draft choice DeAndre Wright -- and Tom Coughlin found a spot on the 53-man roster for him. With Kevin Dockery slowed by a hamstring injury, Johnson became the nickel corner to start the season. He had a forced fumble in his first regular-season game against the Redskins and he followed that up with a pick-six against the Cowboys the following week.

On the interception against the Cowboys, he lured Tony Romo into thinking he was in one-on-one coverage with Roy Williams and then he bailed out at the last second and jumped underneath an out route that Patrick Crayton was running. It was a veteran move by an undrafted rookie -- and he raced to the end zone for a 34-yard touchdown to give the Giants a 10-7 lead in the first quarter.

The Eagles have a fifth-round draft pick named Victor "Macho" Harris who's already cracked the starting lineup at free safety, but I think Johnson had made the bigger impact early in the season. Dockery has returned to the lineup, but I don't think he'll be able to hold off Johnson for long. Johnson's just a very heady player who Coughlin already has a lot of faith in.
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The only thing I've seen him do wrong is get confused on a route the Chiefs ran near the Giants' goal line. On that play, Michael Boley raced back and broke up the pass. Johnson already has eight tackles, three pass deflections, a forced fumble and an interception. I don't think this is beginner's luck.

Bradshaw returns to practice for Giants

October, 2, 2009
10/02/09
2:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw returned to practice Friday after missing two days with an ankle/foot injury, a good sign that he'll likely play against the Chiefs on Sunday. Cornerback Aaron Ross and defensive tackle Chris Canty continued to work out on the side, so they'll probably be ruled out for Sunday.

Wide receivers Domenik Hixon (foot) and Hakeem Nicks (knee) were both practicing and it looks like nickel cornerback Kevin Dockery (hamstring) is set to return. I would expect to see Terrell Thomas continue to start in place of Ross and for Dockery to return to his familiar nickel spot. Undrafted rookie Bruce Johnson has done a really nice job replacing Dockery, so I'm sure defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan will try to keep him in the mix.

Reality Check: Giants

October, 1, 2009
10/01/09
12:00
PM ET

Other 3-0 teams: Giants | Vikings | Saints | Jets | Ravens | Colts | Broncos

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


Are the Giants for real? The NFL Blog Network breaks down each of the seven teams that started the season 3-0.

 
  AP Photo/Stephan Savoia
  Giants coach Tom Coughlin has managed through tough injuries to start the season.
What they've accomplished: The Giants already have beaten two of their division rivals -- the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins -- and they manhandled the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. More important, they've won all three games without some important players. Giants coach Tom Coughlin is one of the best in the league at dealing with adversity and the Giants have had plenty. Losing safety Kenny Phillips for the year with a knee injury is a tough setback and the Giants have been playing without cornerbacks Aaron Ross and Kevin Dockery. The win over the Cowboys was certainly the most impressive. There was a ton of emotion inside Cowboys Stadium that night, but the Giants kept their poise. I think most of us believe the Giants are "for real."

What's ahead: The Giants have had a long injury list each week and now we can add running back Ahmad Bradshaw. I think there are a couple injuries along the offensive line -- tackle Kareem McKenzie and guard Rich Seubert -- that could linger. The Giants have some good depth at most positions, so they'll have to be really smart about managing all the injuries. In terms of schedule, the Giants should be fine against the Kansas City Chiefs (0-3) and Oakland Raiders (1-2) the next two weeks. Things will get interesting when they travel to New Orleans to play the Saints (3-0) on Oct. 18. But there's a three-week stretch in December that should help tell the story. The Giants will play division opponents in consecutive weeks. I think they'll be sitting alone in first place after that stretch. And honestly, they'll probably have a little cushion heading into those games.

Realistic outcome: Even some of the best teams are going to have a hiccup along the way. Last year's Giants team faltered against the Cleveland Browns, but they bounced back and made a good run leading up to Plaxico Burress' evening in the Latin Quarter. I think it's very realistic to think this team could go 13-3 -- and 14-2 would not shock me. Circle the Nov. 1 game at Philly. If the Giants win that one, they should be in the driver's seat for the division title. I just don't see that many stumbling blocks -- especially for a team that loves playing on the road.

Giants' Bradshaw shows up on injury report

September, 30, 2009
9/30/09
11:28
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Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who had 104 yards in Sunday's win over the Bucs, showed up on the pre-practice injury report this morning. It's listed as an ankle/foot injury, but we'll wait and see if Bradshaw practices. Here's the rest of the injury list:

DL Chris Canty (calf)

CB Kevin Dockery (hamstring)

WR Domenik Hixon (knee)

OL Adam Koets (ankle)

OT Kareem McKenzie (knee)

WR Hakeem Nicks (foot)

CB Aaron Ross (hamstring)

LB Clint Sintim (groin)

DE Justin Tuck (shoulder)

RB Danny Ware (elbow)

Coach Tom Coughlin would start easing Ross and Dockery back into practice this week. And Nicks has told reporters that he'll be practicing today. The best news is that linebacker Chase Blackburn (ankle) and guard Rich Seubert (shoulder) didn't show up on the list.

Coughlin delivers an injury update

September, 28, 2009
9/28/09
5:29
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Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


Giants coach Tom Coughlin was hopeful today that starting linemen Kareem McKenzie (knee sprain) and Rich Seubert (shoulder) would be able to return to the lineup by next Sunday. Seubert's shoulder has been bothering him for a while now, but Coughlin felt pretty confident that the left guard would be able to "strengthen" it this week.

Linebacker Chase Blackburn suffered a high ankle sprain against the Bucs, but he said Monday that he's planning to be back on the field. There was also encouraging news on cornerbacks Aaron Ross and Kevin Dockery. Coughlin said he would start easing them back into practice this week.

All in all, I'd say it was pretty good day in the Meadowlands. No word on how Chris Canty and Clint Sintim are recovering from their injuries. And Coughlin said he thought Justin Tuck (shoulder) would "continue to get better."

Coughlin: Phillips' injury isn't career-threatening

September, 25, 2009
9/25/09
2:58
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


Speaking to reporters for the first time since Giants safety Kenny Phillips was placed on injured reserve Thursday, Giants coach Tom Coughlin was asked whether he was "absolutely convinced" that Phillips would play football again. Phillips has a knee condition called patellofemoral arthritis, which is normally seen in older people. Here's how Coughlin responded:

"I am, yeah," Coughlin said of Phillips' eventual return. "First of all, what we have done is in the best interest of the player and the New York Giants because we feel like this young man has an outstanding future. Now you know that I don’t have a medical degree, right?"

Coughlin said he wasn't a "happy camper" when he received news earlier this week that Phillips would likely have to be shut down for the season. He said Phillips has been pretty "emotional" about having to miss the season.

"Well, he is very emotional about it," Coughlin said. "He expected to play and wanted to play. And he is playing well. And he is very upset that it wasn’t the direction that this was to go in. And he fully understood the management part of it. And obviously he could do it, played well in the game with it. So he is very emotional about it. And as I said -- and I have tried to be consistent with this -- the first thing that I say is our concern is about the player -- the player’s health and his emotional well being and all of those things. We want to be there for him -- to support him. And I’m talking about our team, our players, and everyone. And then we want to have the circumstances corrected and want to put a smile back on his face and get him back out on the field playing the game that he loves to play."

Just reading between the lines, it sounds like Phillips could have tried to make it through the season, but that may have compromised his future. The Giants realize that Phillips is one of the best young safeties in the league and they'd rather take the hit now than possibly sacrifice his future.

In other injury news, Coughlin isn't ruling out Justin Tuck (shoulder) for Sunday's game against the Bucs. A source close to the situation told me that it will be a coach's decision because Tuck is lobbying pretty hard to play. Wide receiver Domenik Hixon (knee) and Kevin Dockery (hamstring) are also questionable for Sunday's game.

NFC East: Final Word

September, 25, 2009
9/25/09
2:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


Five nuggets of knowledge about Sunday's and Monday's games:
J. Meric/Getty Images
Look for Felix Jones to get more touches if Marion Barber is unable to play Monday night.
I don't think the Cowboys will have Marion Barber: Earlier today, someone close to the situation said the Cowboys were "leaning toward" sitting Barber for this game. And with superb depth in Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, it sounds like a solid course of action. Barber's still lobbying to play against the Panthers, but I'd be really surprised if he wins this debate. He probably knows how awful the Panthers have been against the run and would like to get a piece of that action. With Barber out, look for offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to try to get Jones and Choice involved in the passing game early. My best guess is that Jones will end up with about 15 to 18 carries and Choice will be somewhere in the 10-to-12 range. Choice did a really nice job filling in last December, so I could see him getting hot in this game and reeling off 75 yards and a touchdown.

The Giants have to overcome more adversity: This Kenny Phillips injury has really upset the locker room. Phillips, who was placed on injured reserve Thursday, was poised to make a run at the Pro Bowl, in my opinion. Now the Giants will replace him with C.C. Brown, who's not nearly as good in coverage. There's also a chance that Justin Tuck (shoulder) might not be able to play. He's also lobbying pretty hard to play, but right now he's feeling some resistance. I think the Giants would like to rest him one game to let the shoulder injury settle down. The Giants are really banged up in the secondary. Getting Kevin Dockery (hamstring) would help immensely, but I wouldn't bet on it happening.

The Redskins need a convincing win: A win's a win -- unless you're playing the Rams and Lions in back-to-back weeks. Jim Zorn is already feeling the heat following Sunday's 9-7 win over the Rams in which the Skins were horrendous in the red zone. I think you'll see a lot more poise from them against the Lions, and Jason Campbell's about to have a big day. If they lose this game, the discussion of an in-season coaching change will start up. Actually, I've already started that, I guess. Look for Santana Moss to have a big game against the Lions. Zorn's been trying to get him more involved and I think this is the week he breaks out.

Should I attempt to make an Eagles point that doesn't involve Michael Vick? Well, let's give it a try. All the focus will be on the Wildcat formation, but the defense needs to win this game. You have to put bad teams away early -- and that's why the defense needs to cause a couple of turnovers. The Eagles let Drew Brees do anything he wanted in an embarrassing 48-22 loss. This week, the Eagles will call a lot more blitzes and you'll see fewer mistakes. You also need to eliminate the mistakes on special teams. Chiefs coach Todd Haley knows a thing or two about moving the ball on the Eagles (see NFC Championship Game), so I don't think this will be the blowout Eagles fans are craving.

There's one way Jason Garrett could cut down on Tony Romo's turnovers: The Princeton man saw what this running game could do against an elite front seven. And that's why he should come out and let the Cowboys' offensive line dominate the Panthers, who have allowed 168 rushing yards per game. The Cowboys could've put the Giants away if they'd kept running the ball late in the third quarter. Garrett gave Romo the opportunity to go for the deep ball -- and it backfired. Felix Jones and Tashard Choice should both have big days. If that doesn't happen, Garrett's going with the wrong game plan.

Let's also hope Jerry Jones gets the Party Pass situation taken care of. That was a potentially dangerous situation when a large number of fans broke down a barricade to get into the Party Pass area. OK, thanks for joining us for the Final Word.

Giants' Phillips placed on IR

September, 24, 2009
9/24/09
5:01
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


As if the Giants didn't have enough injury issues in their secondary, the club announced Thursday that starting safety Kenny Phillips (left knee) has been placed on injured reserve. Phillips had two interceptions in last Sunday's 33-31 win over the Cowboys and he appeared to be on his way to a breakout season.

Coach Tom Coughlin thought the team could stay ahead of the injury by resting Phillips during the week, but obviously he must have had a major setback. Former Texans safety C.C. Brown will take over as the starter and the Giants moved quickly to sign former Packers safety Aaron Rouse.

There's also a good chance the Giants won't have cornerbacks Aaron Ross and Kevin Dockery in this game because of hamstring injuries. The Cowboys weren't able to exploit the Giants' thin secondary, but they had to play against Phillips. I believe that the former Miami Hurricane was poised to become one of the elite safeties in the league. He just had a knack for the ball, and he had the ability to cover wide receivers one on one.

Fortunately for the Giants, they will be able to break in Brown against some rather weak NFL teams coming up on the schedule.

Here's a video of Coughlin discussing Phillips' injury. Meanwhile defensive end Justin Tuck has a partially torn labrum, according to the New York Daily News.

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